Putting the spotlight on wellness at meetings

An increasingly popular trend at meetings is to place more emphasis on delegates’ well-being. The global wellness industry as a whole is big business – in fact, the worldwide market is worth a staggering $4.2 trillion every year, according to the Global Wellness Institute.

It’s no surprise that savvy event organisers are tapping into the market. After all, a healthy delegate is a happy delegate. At the end of an exhausting day, and facing the prospect of a similar one tomorrow, attendees used to be left to their own devices in the event of an overnight hotel stay.

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Today, as the mass exodus from the conference room begins, it’s more likely that the attendees will be heading off to enjoy some downtime relaxing in the spa. The modern planner often arranges something special to promote wellness, such as a half-hour massage for each delegate.

This has a two-fold effect: it’s physically and mentally relaxing for the attendees, while it also gives a positive image of the company. Everyone feels that their employer genuinely cares about their well-being.

Who’s following healthy practices?
Despite putting the spotlight on wellness, some companies’ health and well-being practices fall short, a survey has found. The not-for-profit organisation, Incentive Research Foundation, has found that 64% of event planners class their meetings as being only “somewhat healthy”.

Only 5% responded that they had fully embraced the idea and reported their meetings were “very healthy”. So if companies are setting wellness goals and trying to promote the concept at meetings, why are some falling short?

The IRF says every event planner should be making more effort to implement health and wellness practices, especially those that have the most significant impact.

Differing ideas of good practice
The survey revealed that employers’ ideas of what constituted a wellness benefit differed greatly across the board. For some employers, the only health and wellness concession at meetings was offering reduced-calorie drinks for attendees! Yet the majority of suggestions made by the IRF for wellness ideas don’t require additional funds.

The simplest way of promoting healthy choices is by altering the menu. Serving chicken, fish and lean meats, and providing healthy snacks such as fruit and nuts, while also providing gluten-free options, is a good start. Those employers who wish to go one step further are providing access to a spa or fitness facility.

Planners are also encouraging movement during the meeting. Researchers have found people find it easier to take things in mentally if they have some physical activity during the schedule too. The days when delegates sat through long sessions with just a lunch break are gone.

Physical movement, no matter how minor, makes it easier to engage mentally afterwards. Event planners ranked healthy foods and beverages, and group exercise as the wellness practices that had the most impact. The single most important practice was providing healthy foods, with 33% of planners saying this was something they did.

Planners feel stressed too!
Ironically, 56% of meeting planners said their own job was so stressful that it harmed their own well-being. This led them to use wellness strategies to make their job easier. This is a good idea, since an event planner who doesn’t take care of their own well-being can’t be expected to take the best care of their groups!

Around 50% of planners said they took time out to exercise while planning meetings. This included going to the gym, walking, or practicing yoga. Others said they made sure they always had time for a good night’s sleep, using aromatherapy or soothing music to help them fall asleep.

Some planners also add downtime to their schedule: if they’re organising a large event, they may arrive a day early and leave a day later so that they can sneak in a spa treatment afterwards to unwind.

Around 50% of planners said they took time out to exercise while planning meetings. This included going to the gym, walking, or practicing yoga. Others said they made sure they always had time for a good night’s sleep, using aromatherapy or soothing music to help them fall asleep.

Some planners also add downtime to their schedule: if they’re organising a large event, they may arrive a day early and leave a day later so that they can sneak in a spa treatment afterwards to unwind.

Best and worst techniques
The most common and easily organised wellness techniques include setting up a walking route throughout the conference centre, working with the catering provider to ensure a healthy menu that’s within budget, and having a wellness expert as a key speaker to advise on health in the workplace.

Least effective wellness practices include trying to enforce food on the delegates without any choices – for example, making everyone go vegan or meat-free may lead to resentment and stress for some people.

Another trendy option of offering alternative seating that’s supposed to be comfortable, such as beanbags, has proved unpopular among survey respondents, who would rather have a regular comfortable chair.

Whatever wellness activities you incorporate into your events, try and give the delegates take away ideas that they can follow at home too, especially in terms of food ideas.

Give your meeting a head start by hiring a modern venue with excellent facilities. &Meetings has many affordable meeting rooms for hire. Give us a call today on 0800 073 0499 for further information.

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